Tuesday, as I was preparing to watch the vice presidential debate, I unexpectedly fell into a deep slumber. And what, you ask, did I dream? I dreamt of the debate itself—of a debate that, for once, truly mattered. In my dream, Mike Pence, covered in flop sweat, chain smoked cigarettes in angry silence as the moderator asked unanswerable questions. In my dream, Tim Kaine laughed the way your father did before you were born, only to set a harmonica to his lips and play a hopeful song. Sarah Palin was there.
Anyway, I’m up now. Keep an eye on this post for the most compelling, most ludicrous, and most moving words that Pence and Kaine speak at the actual debate Tuesday night.
Kaine on what frightens him (it’s Trump):
I’ll just say this, we trust Hillary Clinton, my wife and I. We trust her with the most important thing in our life. We have a son deployed overseas in the Marine Corps right now. We trust Hillary Clinton as president and commander in chief, but the thought of Donald Trump as commander in chief scares us to death.
Kaine, needling his opponent:
It is so painful to suggest that we go back to think about these days where an African American could not be a citizen of the United States. And I can’t imagine how Gov. Pence can defend the insult-driven, selfish, me-first style of Donald Trump.
Pence, nothing if not polite:
Let me interrupt you and finish my sentence, if I can.
Pence, demonstrating that he might have some helpful advice for his running mate, who reported losses of $916 million in a single year:
I mean, I’m very proud of the fact that I come from a state that works, the state of Indiana has balanced budgets. We cut taxes, we’ve made record investments in education and in infrastructure, and I still finish my term with $2 billion in the bank.
Kaine, bringing those reality TV zingers we were waiting for:
Do you want a you’re hired the president in Hillary Clinton or a you’re fired president in Donald Trump?
Kaine, interrogating Trump’s understanding of intelligence:
He stood on the stage last week and when Hillary said, you haven’t been paying taxes, he said, “That makes me smart.” So it’s smart not to pay for our military? It’s smart not to pay for veterans? It’s smart not to pay for teachers? And I guess all of us who do pay for those things, I guess, were stupid.
Kaine, on the evils of gun violence:
One of those killed at Virginia Tech was a 70-plus–year-old Romanian Holocaust survivor. He’d survived the Holocaust and survived the Soviet Union takeover of his country. But then he was a visiting professor at Virginia Tech, and he couldn’t survive the scourge of gun violence.
Pence, working through what institutional bias actually entails:
We have got to do a better job recognizing correcting the errors in the system that do reflect on institutional bias in criminal justice, but what Donald Trump and I are saying is let’s not have the reflex of assuming the worst of men and women in law enforcement.
Kaine on when and whether Trump takes responsibility for his actions:
Did Donald Trump apologize for taking after somebody in a Twitter war and making fun of her weight? Did he apologize for saying African Americans are living in hell? Did he apologize for saying President Obama was not even a citizen of the United States? You will look in vain to see Donald Trump ever taking responsibility for anybody and apologize.
Kaine, discussing Trump’s nuclear policy:
Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He’s said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, Korea should get them. And when he was confronted with this and told, wait a minute, terrorists could get those, proliferation could lead to nuclear war, here’s what Donald Trump said, and I quote, ‘Go ahead, folks, enjoy yourselves.’ I would love to hear Gov. Pence tell me what’s so enjoyable or comical about nuclear war.
Pence, offering a point-by-point refutation of Kaine’s characterization of Trump:
Did you work on that one a long time? Because that had a lot of creative lines in it.
Kaine on immigration policy:
Hillary and I want enforcement based on are people dangerous. These guys say all Mexicans are bad, and with respect to refugees, we want to keep them out if they’re dangerous. Donald Trump said keep them out if they’re Muslim. Mike Pence said keep them out if they’re from Syria, and yesterday an appellate court with three Republican judges struck down the plan, and said it was discriminatory.
Pence, wondering why everyone keeps saying Trump doesn’t pay taxes:
Donald Trump has paid all the taxes that he’s—do you not take deductions?
Kaine, parsing his opponent’s answers:
He’s asking everybody to vote for somebody that he cannot defend.
Kaine on negotiating the conflict between his religious faith and political obligations:
I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law, and I did. That was a real struggle, but it’s really important those of us who have deep-faith lives don’t feel we could substitute our own views for [those of] everybody else in society regardless of their views.
Pence on his own faith:
I try to spend a little bit of time on my knees every day.
Pence, reminded of the remarks with which Trump began his campaign:
Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.